Button relishing return to “special” Monza

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McLaren driver Jenson Button is relishing Formula One’s annual visit to Monza next weekend as the European season comes to a close with the Italian Grand Prix.

Button expressed his excitement for the race in McLaren’s grand prix preview, with the Briton finishing on the podium in Italy on four previous occasions.

“I’ve always loved Monza. I really enjoy circuits that have a bit of history to them, and Monza has that in abundance – it’s one of the greatest tracks on the calendar,” Button explained.

“The place is unique: ever since we lost the ‘old’ Hockenheim, this has been the only place on the calendar where you run a really super-low downforce configuration. And you can feel it – the car accelerates up to speed incredibly quickly, feels skittish and loose when you’re running flat-out, and can be tricky and unpredictable under braking. But that’s what makes the place a special kind of challenge, and I really enjoy that.”

The race will also see McLaren celebrate its fiftieth birthday, with Martin Whitmarsh explaining yesterday how it felt right to be reaching the landmark at a historic circuit such as Monza. Button echoed his team principal’s thoughts and explained how he hopes to honor the milestone with a strong result.

“There’s nowhere quite like it. So it’s really appropriate that McLaren will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in the paddock over the Monza weekend.

“Both names are synonymous with motorsport history – you couldn’t imagine Formula One without them – so I’ll be hoping for a strong result to show the strength and depth that we have as a team.”

McLaren’s start to the season has been far from impressive, recording a best result of fifth at this year’s Chinese Grand Prix. However, with eight races remaining in the season, there is still time for the team to score at least one top-three finish in order to avoid its first year without a podium since 1995.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.